You can argue, as some are doing, that these "gaffes" (and they are gaffes - not in that they don't indicate the truth, but rather that they're mistakenly revealed) have no empirical effect on the polls. And it's true the data sure looks like the polls didn't swing wildly one way or another when presidential candidates said various stupid things.
But winning elections, and politics more generally, is about more than one day's, one week's poll results. It's about winning hearts and minds. Of not just voters, but of the media, of other influentials, of your own donors. It's about inspiring your team, and voters, and dispiriting the other guy and his. It's about the cumulative effect of bad news, like radiation poisoning, slowly taking its toll until the damage is irreversible.
I can't prove it. It's just my gut. And my experience in politics.
Watching people like Mitt Romney write off half the American people with contempt.
Pompously, Al Haig style, going before the American people to reassure the families of the newly-murdered State Department employees that he's thinking about them - as if "what does Mitt think?" was foremost in their minds upon learning that their loved ones were dead.
Finding out that Mitt Romney was practically hoping for a national security crisis involving the lives of American citizens - or as the Romney campaign calls murdered American government officials, "an opportunity."
All of that ticks me off. And it inspires me to write. And to fight. And to care about this election much more than anything President Obama, or even Bill Clinton, could say.
That kind of enthusiasm, and the buzz-kill that the Romney campaign is causing among Republican thought leaders who are now calling for an "intervention," is priceless in politics.
Priceless not just because it's fun as hell. But because it bolsters our troops, and destroys theirs.
And while you can't put a poll number on that, there's a reason the Obama folks are loving these gaffes, while Team Romney is putting out videos with the Mrs. proclaiming her husband not to be a witch. And it's not because Mitt Romney's himbo eruptions don't matter.
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